Agar, batting power help Australians make winning start

The Australians kicked off their limited-overs tour of India with a dominant 103-run win over the Indian Board President’s XI in their only warm-up match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Powered by solid contributions from their batting order, with as many as four batsmen making half-centuries, the Australians ran up 347 for 7 before Ashton Agar returned a four-wicket haul to send Board President’s XI packing for 244.

The Australians’ dominance began with a second-wicket stand between David Warner and Captain Steven Smith, after Hilton Cartwright had been sent back for a second-ball duck by medium-pacer Avesh Khan. Warner raced to 64 off 48 balls and dominated the partnership of 106 before Kushang Patel, another medium-pacer, had him caught behind. Smith was more sedate for his 55 that took 68 balls, but with him and Glenn Maxwell falling in the space of six overs, the Australians went from 106 for 1 to 158 for 4.

Travis Head added 88 with Marcus Stoinis, who top scored with 76 at No. 6. Head departed at the end of the 40th over, having scored 65 of 63 balls. Stoinis and Matthew Wade then pushed them into overdrive with a sixth-wicket stand of 85 that came in eight overs. Both batsmen fell in successive balls – Stoinis for a 60-ball 76 that had four fours and five sixes and Wade for 45 off 24 with two fours and four sixes – but the Australians still punched 16 runs in 11 balls after their dismissals.

“I think when you are exposed to conditions, it obviously helps,” Stoinis said. “I’ve been part of three IPLs and A tour. Having an Indian coach … I have been working closely with him. That helps. Sriram and I got along very well at Delhi Daredevils in my first IPL. For four months I was working with him then. It was mostly defence in subcontinent and trying to trust that before you go on attack.”

Hemang Badani, the Board President’s coach, didn’t think it was a 350 pitch and admitted they conceded too many. “I think it was 40 too many; 280, 290 would have been a decent target,” he said. “We would have planned and batted differently. With 340 on the board, it is difficult from ball one. Batting second tends to become difficult.”

Board President’s XI’s spin duo of Washington Sundar and Rahil Shah held their own amid the carnage, giving away 55 runs in their combined 15 overs, with Washington’s figures reading 8-1-23-2.

Board President’s XI, like the Australians, lost an early wicket in Rahul Tripathi but quickly recovered through a second-wicket stand between Shreevats Goswami (43) and Mayank Agarwal (42) that was worth 79. But 89 for 1 became 156 for 8 with little resistance coming from the middle order. Akshay Karnewar and Kushang held the Australians back briefly with 40 and 41 not out respectively, to help add 88 runs for the last two wickets. Agar dented the middle and lower order with 4 for 44.

“Ashton Agar bowled beautifully,” Stoinis said. “It is also about understanding conditions and what lengths you want. I think everyone will get something out of it individually.”

Summarized scores: Australians 347 for 7 (Stoinis 76, Head 65, Washington 2-23) beat Indian Board President’s XI 244 (Goswami 43, Agarwal 42, Agar 4-44) by 103 runs

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